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.307 Winchester

 

History


When the .30-30 was introduced in 1895, it was considered a major step forwards in hunting cartridge design. The power of the .30-30 was superseded relatively quickly however as surplus military rifles became available, American hunters gained access to such cartridges as the .30-40 (introduced 3 years prior to the .30-30) followed by the .30-03 which became the .30-06 in 1906. Regardless of these innovations, one generation on there were still many hunters relying solely on the economical and portable model 94 Winchester lever action rifle in .30-30 to put food on the table. Nevertheless many hunters wished for more power from the 94 platform as a means to increase affective range and killing power. During the 1950’s, the wildcat .30-30 Ackley Improved gained a small level of popularity amongst U.S hunters however the vast majority of 94 users did not hand load, limiting the success of this proposition.
 
Eventually, to meet market demands, Winchester designed a completely new lever action rifle, far stronger than the original model 94 and with a potent new cartridge, this was released in 1963 as the Model 88 Lever action in .284 Winchester. Although the .284 cartridge was far superior to the .30-30, poor market acceptance of the Model 88 rifle taught Winchester that the appeal of the model 94 rifle far out weighed cartridge performance, even though hunters wanted a more potent lever action cartridge. 
 
During the 1970’s Winchester engineers redesigned the internal workings of the 94, adding strength to the action without changing it’s traditional aspects. This resulted in the 94 XTR Big bore chambered in .375 Winchester, released in 1978. Unfortunately for Winchester, market acceptance of the .375 was only fair, prompting Winchester to begin research into high power cartridge development for the 94.
 
Historically, the design of the .307 is recognized as being finalized during 1982 while it’s big brother, the .356 was finalized in 1983.  The .307 design was based on the .308 Winchester case with a semi rim added to aid extraction. The .356 was based on the .358 Winchester (.308 Win case necked up to .35) again with a semi rim added for use in the 94 rifle.
 
To further enhance the model 94, modifications were subtly added to allow the use of a scope. The new model was designated as the 94 Big Bore AE XTR (angle ejection) and was released in 1984, chambered for the two new cartridges, the .307 and .356 Winchester.
 
The .307 finally answered hunters needs for a more potent version of the .30-30. Winchester introduced two loads for the .307 featuring a 150 gr Flat Power Point at 2760fps and a 180 gr Flat Power Point at 2510fps, both chronographed from a 24” test barrel. However; instead of being swept up by hunters, the Big Bore .307 received only marginal acceptance. American gun writers suggest that the .307’s lack of popularity was due to the fact that it arrived a generation too late, missing the generation that wanted a more potent cartridge and arriving at a time where the 94 rifle and .30-30 cartridge have been appreciated for their classic appeal.
 
Outside of the U.S, the .307 was marketed to hunters during the mid 1980’s. Some bush/woods hunters took to the cartridge well, however acceptance was generally mild.
 
Although Marlin produced a little over 2000 rifles chambered for the .356 Winchester, Winchester was the only company to chamber the .307. Currently the Winchester Big Bore 94 rifle is no longer in production, to some extent adding value to .307, .356 and .375 caliber rifles. Ammunition is still produced by Olin however only one load remains.
 

Performance


Using factory ammunition, the .307 is a mild performer and to a large extent, duplicates the .30-30. The Olin loading produces clean kills on medium game but with a delay in speed of kills when used at ranges beyond 50 yards.
 
With hand loads, the performance of the .307 can be increased to produce a flatter trajectory and wider wounding than the .30-30. The .307 can be used out to 200 with ease, and 250 yards with care. As for speed of killing, the muzzle velocity of  2650fps which is achievable when hand loading a 150 grain bullet, is a threshold velocity, below which, most .30 caliber bullets begin to lose the ability to produce hydrostatic shock with rear lung shots on medium game. The .307 can produce very fast kills at close ranges and is also capable of producing relatively fast killing out as far as 200 yards, providing care is taken with shot placement (see .30-30). Furthermore, in the hands of a skilled hunter, fast, clean killing can be obtained at ranges of around 250 yards. In contrast, when error of shot placement does occur, the .307 cannot be relied upon to produce consistently fast killing. Rear lung shots and liver shots will invariably result in clean but very delayed kills as ranges exceed 50 yards and especially beyond 100 yards.  
 

Factory Ammunition

 
Olin’s sole remaining load for the .307, is the 180 grain PowerPoint at an advertised 2510fps, giving a realistic 2250fps in 20” barrels. The factory charge is 38 grains of W748 powder. The performance of this load on game is very mild and though it kills cleanly, the 180 grain bullet cleaves to its momentum, producing somewhat narrow wounding on light or lean medium game, resulting in delayed kills with animals covering a lot of ground before succumbing to blood loss. Penetration is generally excellent however projectiles that exit, even after striking bone, fail to produce a substantial blood trail while exit holes are often around .5” in diameter, duplicating the performance of the .30-30. This load is best suited to tough or larger bodied medium game which offer more resistance to aid bullet expansion. When the 180 grain PowerPoint is used in this manner, the .307 comes into its own. As can be expected, the PowerPoint is best utilized at ranges inside 200 yards due to the limitations of both trajectory and wounding.
 

Hand Loading


Hand loaders will notice that although the .307 is based on the .308 case, case capacity of the .307 is slightly below that of the .308 due to thicker case walls. Using powders in the H4895 to Varget range, standard hand loads for the .307 in the 20” 94 barrel produce velocities of 2650fps with 150gr bullets, 2500fps with 170gr bullets and 2400fps with 180gr bullets, while top loads produce velocities 50fps above these. 
 
While the .30-30 can be loaded with round nosed bullets, Winchester recommend that only flat nosed bullets be used in the .307 due to the extra recoil inertia which could potentially result in cartridge detonation within the tube magazine of the 94. That said Hornady have tested their 150gr round nosed bullet at velocities as high as 2600fps with no ill effect. To this extent, although the text ahead deals with some round nose bullets, readers are reminded, that Winchester do not advise the use of round nose bullets in the .307 and that they, (nor this author) will be held responsible for ignoring these warnings.
 
Starting with the softest projectile, Speer’s 150  grain .30-30 flat point bullet is an excellent killer on medium game in the .307, giving a solid “whock” sound when animals are hit and an immediate knockdown with well placed shoulder shots out to 150 yards, quite outstanding for a 94 lever gun. But as soft as this bullet is, the Speer does not produce a broad exit wound due to a loss of frontal area after impact. With shots that fall behind the shoulder to the rear of the lungs, like all flat or round nosed bullets traveling below 2600fps, the Speer is inconsistent in its ability to initiate hydrostatic shock to the spine. Sometimes animals will drop instantly but more often than not, game will run considerable distances. Nevertheless, as a light game bullet for the .307, the 150 grain Speer is very good.
 
The 170 grain Speer flat point is suitable for light bodied game but at full .307 velocities, is too soft for use on larger bodied medium game, unable to cope with raking shots and unable to produce exit wounding.  The 180 grain Speer round nose Hotcor is much more reliable on large bodied medium game, producing both deep and broad wounding, an altogether good projectile for the .307.
 
Like the Speer FP projectiles, the Hornady 150 grain round nose and 170 grain flat point are excellent performers when used on light bodied game. When used on tough animals at close ranges, the .307 places these projectiles under excessive stress resulting in generally poor penetration. Unfortunately the Hornady 180 grain round nose bullet is just as soft and sadly lacking in comparison to other round nose bullet brands.
 
The Hornady FTX rubber tipped 160 grain bullet driven at 2550fps is a violent performer. At ranges inside 100 yards, expansion is incredibly fast and the occasional blow back results in entry wounds being as wide as .75”. Again, due to .307 velocities, penetration tends to be poor and rumenous fiber arrests the FTX easily. That said, wounding from tail on shots on medium game is immensely fierce, causing coma and destroying the femoral artery, resulting in death within seconds. The FTX is best used on game weighing no more than 80kg (180lb) and exit wounding with cross body shots can be expected in most instances. The trajectory of this load is suitable for shooting beyond 200 yards however optimum killing performance is achieved at close ranges.  

The Sierra 150 grain flat point is a good light game bullet for the .307, producing a solid thump and fast killing out to 150 yards or so, providing shot placement is sound. The Sierra tends to produce more thorough exit wounding than both the Speer and Hornady 150 grain .30-30 projectiles. The 170 grain Sierra flat point Power Jacket, driven at 2500fps is a versatile projectile. Velocity is too low to display a great deal of hydrostatic shock on light game however the Sierra kills cleanly. This projectile is capable of reaching the vitals of light to medium weight game with tail on shots, resulting in very quick kills. On heavy bodied medium game, the 170 grain Sierra will penetrate vitals from most angles bar tail on. Wounding on large animals is thorough. The Sierra 180 grain round nose is another good bullet for use on larger bodied medium game, producing deep, broad wounding. The 170 and 180 grain Sierra projectiles, although designed for different cartridges, differ very little in construction and generally excellent to work with, producing profuse blood trails with cross body shots.  
 
The Nosler 170 grain flat point Partition is extremely well suited to the .307. This bullet is partially round nosed, calling for the same warnings and considerations given to other round nose bullets to be used in the .307. Regarding terminal performance, the 170 grain Partition is indirectly yet optimally suited to .307 close range impact velocities. The front cavity of the Partition is, like all of its kin, very soft, producing immediate expansion resulting in wide wounding. The Partition is capable of  end to end penetration on medium sized deer species but cannot be expected to produce these results on large, heavy bodied medium game. The Partition is the most reliable bullet for the production of free bleeding exit wounding on large bodied medium game. This is always an important consideration for bush/woods loads where quick shots and shot placement error are par for the course.
 

Closing Comments

 
The .307 did to some extent, achieve what its makers intended for the slick and handy model 94 lever action rifle. The .307 shoots flatter than the .30-30 and with the superior shot placement afforded by a scope, hunters can consistently obtain faster kills than is possible with the traditional model 94 .30-30 rifle.
 
 
Suggested loads: .307 Winchester Barrel length: 20”
No ID   Sectional Density Ballistic Coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
Ft-lb’s
1 FL 180gr Win PowerPoint .271 .251 2250 2023
2 HL 150gr Sierra FP .226 .185 2650 2339
3 HL 160gr Hornady FTX .241 .330 2550 2310
4 HL 170gr Partition RN .248 .252 2500 2359
5 HL 170gr Sierra FP .248 .250 2500 2359
6 HL 180gr Speer/Sierra RN* .271 .300 2400 2302
 
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths           
1 Yards 50 75 100 150 200 250    
  Bt. path +1 +1.6 +1.7 0 -4.4 -11.9    
2 Yards 50 100 175 200 250 300    
  Bt. path +1 +2 0 -1.8 -7.2 -15.7    
3 Yards 50 100 184 200 250 300    
  Bt. path +1 +2 0 -1 -5.5 -12.3    
4 Yards 50 100 172 200 250 300    
  Bt. path +1 +2 0 -2 -7.4 -16.4    
5 Yards 50 100 172 200 250 300    
  Bt. path +1 +2 0 -2 -7.7 -16.4    
6 Yards 50 100 170 200 250 300    
  Bt. path +1 +2 0 -2.2 -7.8 -16.1    
 
 
 
 
 
 
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 200 7.8 1658 1099
2 200 8.3 1848 1137
3 200 4.8 2049 1491
4 200 7.2 1839 1277
5 200 7.2 1839 1277
6 200 5.8 1889 1426
 
 
*Winchester advise round nose bullets may be dangerous, resulting in cartridge detonation within tube magazines.
Note the retained velocity of the FTX (load 3) at 200 yards.  

307 Winchester final.jpg
 
 
  Imperial Metric 
A .506 12.85
B .471 11.96
C 20 deg  
D .454 11.53
E .344 8.74
F 1.560 39.62
G .303~ 7.70
H 2.015 51.18
Max Case 2.015 51.18
Trim length 2.005 50.9


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